Super-sized bee sculptures which went on display around Manchester have raised more than £1.1 million at auction.
The 77 Bee In The City artworks, each with a different design, were dotted around the area’s streets, parks and cultural venues during the summer months.
On Wednesday night the giant bees were sold off to raise funds for the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s We Love MCR Charity.
The city’s worker bee symbol, a nod to its industrial heritage, came to worldwide recognition as people united in the wake of last May’s Manchester Arena suicide bombing.
Lord Mayor of Manchester June Hitchen said: “Bee In The City really captured the city’s heart this summer, and it’s clear from tonight’s auction there’s still a lot of love for the bees.
“On behalf of We Love MCR Charity, I would like to say a massive thank you to all of the bidders tonight.
“They dug deep to raise an incredible £1,128,250, which will make a huge difference to the work we do in and for Manchester.”
The most popular bee of the night was Bee United, painted by Joseph Venning and sponsored by Manchester United Football Club.
Former player Andy Cole appeared alongside the sculpture, which raised £36,000.
Ex-Manchester City player Mike Summerbee also made an appearance at the sale, held at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre, alongside his former club’s bee and namesake Mike Summer-Bee.
Coronation Street stars Dolly-Rose Campbell (Gemma Winter), Melanie Hill (Cathy Matthews) and Charlie de Melo (Imran Habeeb) were also at the auction to see the Hilda Bugden Bee sculpture, by Lee O’Brien, find its rightful home after it was bought by the show for £12,150.
The money raised will support We Love MCR Charity’s Stronger Communities fund, which provides grants of up to £2,000 for initiatives that bring communities together to celebrate diversity and build stronger relationships.
The sale was presided over by TV antiques expert Charles Hanson, best know for Flog It! and Bargain Hunt.
Sally-Ann Wilkinson, director of organisers Wild In Art, said: “Bee In The City was a celebration of Manchester’s creativity and unity.
“The bees brought communities together as people explored and enjoyed the trail, and now the project will leave a lasting legacy for the city through the We Love MCR Charity.”